Episode Info

As directed by Daniel Gordon, this documentary revisits the explosive controversy that erupted at the height of the 24th Olympic Games, which took place in Seoul, South Korea from September through October 1988. Spectators of the original event will recall that two formidable athletes - American Carl Lewis and Canadian Ben Johnson - went head to head in the men's 100-meter dash; at the time, Lewis was still riding on the crest of his celebrity stature as a 1984 L.A. Olympics contender, and many regarded Johnson as the ultimate underdog, rebounding as he was from a pulled hamstring. Johnson won the hearts of Canadians everywhere and became a national hero by edging Lewis out during the event, in a spectacular time of 9.79 seconds. But within merely a few days, the Olympic committee shocked everyone by disqualifying Johnson on the basis of a failed drug y one test. In the immediate wake of this development, he lost his medal to Lewis. In this film, director Gordon opens up a mystery surrounding that changed decision: was Johnson, he asks, unique in using steroids, or merely the fall guy for a broad practice that involved multiple team members at the time, given the fact that six of Johnson's teammates were eventually indicted for the same reason? Gordon climbs inside of the controversy via interviews with Johnson, Lewis, teammates and Olympic insiders; in the process, he uncovers multiple layers of truth in this strange, disturbing situation that still invites discussion and inquiry, decades later.


9.79* Photos